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Friendly neighbourhood ministers

- Rare chance for MPs of ‘triplet seats’ Lohardaga, Raigarh & Sundargarh

Raipur/Ranchi, May 27: It’s a rare neighbourly feeling for newbie minister and Lohardaga MP Sudarshan Bhagat.

Bhagat is among the three MPs of geographical siblings — closely flanked constituencies across three states — to have found berths in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ministry, the other two being Vishnu Deo Sai of Raigarh (Chhattisgarh) and Jual Oram of Sundargarh (Odisha).

Ministerial camaraderie, coupled with geographical closeness of their respective seats can help Bhagat, Sai and Oram take notes on the region’s startling similarities, both natural and manmade.

Broadly, three seats together comprise a rich mineral bowl, but its tribal population suffers development lacunae, including rail infrastructure.

People’s mandate apart, the trio of Bhagat, Sai and Oram have been given enough power by the Narendra Modi government to give the region a facelift.

Bhagat, a minister of state, got the charge of social justice and empowerment. Firebrand tribal leader Oram, a Jan Sangh veteran who had represented Sundargarh thrice earlier in the Lok Sabha, has been awarded a cabinet berth as tribal affairs minister. And, four-time Raigarh MP Sai, minister of state, got mines, steel, labour and employment.

“As a member of the Union ministry, Jharkhand will be my first priority,” Bhagat told The Telegraph from New Delhi today.

The leader from the Oraon community who retained his Lohardaga seat needs to bring rail connectivity to Gumla district, which falls under the constituency. Almost 67 years after Independence, Gumla lacks tracks, though it is close to tourist hub Netarhat, which also has a residential school that is the alma mater of many IAS officers.

Bhagat’s mother Manna Devi said as much.

“I have all the best wishes for my honest son. Bas, Gumla rail line se judi (Just that Gumla should be connected via rail),” she told the media.

The twin districts of Lohardaga and Gumla are also infamous for active rebel organisations, including CPI(Maoist) and PLFI. Bauxite-laden trucks torched for levy and bandh calls affect the mineral-driven economy, though Aditya Birla Group’s Hindalco mainly depends on Lohardaga and Gumla districts for its bauxite to make aluminium.

Sai, Raigarh MP, said he was looking at the big picture. “The three ministers in three constituencies connected to each would help in the development and growth of the region spread across three states,” he said, hinting at co-ordination with respective ministries for a common action plan.


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